President's Pen 5-30-16 (Why, What & How)

As missionaries in the Texas Houston South Mission, we know our purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ, by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. We do this through our constant efforts to find, teach, invite, retain, and activate God’s children; we love it, we live it, and we do it! We begin with the “End in Mind”, and see God’s children as he does. We are Disciples of Jesus Christ and the best missionaries in the world!

Dear Elders & Sisters,

Thanks for your good work this past week, we love you!  I pray that you have each made a goal to bring someone unto Christ this transfer, 4-3-2-1 Vision to Baptize!  Keep up the great efforts you are making to open your mouth, find, work with the members, invite boldly, follow up daily, and have the Savior's name on your lips.  Every day you are sowing for the Lord's harvest, be patient, be diligent, and do all you can each and every day to serve with your heart, might, mind, and strength.  

I want to point out an interesting pattern that can be found in Preach My Gospel; the WHY, WHAT, and HOW are right in front of us...  Chapter 1 is our WHY – the purpose and our message.  Chapters 3-5 are the WHAT – what we teach, what the role of the Spirit is as we teach, and what the Book of Mormon will help them come to know as they read, ponder, and pray.  Chapters 2, 6-13 are the HOW — how to study effectively, how we can develop Christlike attributes, how to learn a language, how to use time wisely (set goals and make plans), how to find, how to improve your teaching skills, how to invite, how to invite, help them commit, and follow up, how to prepare people for ordinances, and finally how to work with the members.  Pretty cool!

A great evidence that you understand your WHY is that you will want to know WHAT you need to do and HOW you need to do it.  PMG is truly inspired and I pray that you are taking the time to study from it everyday.  I love the personal study and companionship activities at the end of each chapter.  If you will take the time to do these you will find that your effectiveness as a missionary will increase and that your ability to help people come unto Christ will improve.  Whether you have just started your mission or if you mission will end soon, please study from PMG everyday! Discipleship = self discipline, practice and exercise. :)

For the month of June we will continue to focus on the HOW, and in particular our teaching skills.  Teaching can oftentimes be confused with telling.  If we are not careful we can show up for a lesson and tell them what we know, but not teach them what they need to know or what they should do.   An example might be… We can tell them about our Father in Heaven, but it is better to teach them how to come to know Him and feel of His love through prayer.   We can tell them about the Savior, but it is better if we teach them how to feel of His love, increase their desire to follow Him, and help them learn how they can be saved and redeemed.  We can tell them about the Holy Ghost, but it is better if we teach them how they can recognize promptings and come to know the truth for themselves as they act in faith.  We can tell them about the Book ofMormon, but it is better if we teach them how to apply it to their own lives and receive answers to their questions.  Do you find yourself telling the gospel at times versus teaching it?

Effective teaching follows the same pattern of WHY, WHAT, and HOW.  The WHY is the doctrine or the purpose.  Why should they have faith, why repent, why be baptized, why come to church, why the Plan of Salvation.  If there is no WHY, or if they don't come to understand the need, they stall in their progression.  When they know the WHY, they naturally want to know WHAT they need to do…  What does it mean to have faith, what does repentance feel like, what is baptism for a remission of sins, what is it like to attend church, what is the Plan of Salvation.  Once I know WHAT I need to do, then I will want to know HOW to do it…  How do I show my faith, how do I repent, how am I baptized, how will church help me, how does the Plan of Salvation work.  

President Gordon B. Hinckley taught that, "Effective teaching is the very essence of leadership in the Church. Eternal life will come only as men and women are taught with such effectiveness that they change and discipline their lives. They cannot be coerced into righteousness or into heaven. They must be led, and that means teaching."  As you consider your role as a teacher, think about how you will lead (help) men and women to change their lives.  The kind of teaching as described by President Hinckley requires study, planning, practice, practice, practice, and the need for us to be worthy vessels for the Spirit.

Preach My Gospel is your best resource on HOW to improve your abilities to lead men and women to change.  Just because we know the WHY, and the WHAT, doesn't make us great teachers; it is something we need to continually work on.  In Chapter 10 the skills you need to master are well outlined and as you apply what it teaches, you can help men and women discipline their lives.   Consider how you can improve your teaching by following the inspired pattern PMG…

Teach with Your Companion in Unity — This begins with your own worthiness, obedience, nightly planning, individual study, companionship study, lesson planning (including role play) and even companionship inventory.  You invite the Spirit through your preparation as a companionships and without the Spirit you cannot teach.

Invite Members to Teach with You — A member becomes another witness, a friend, and someone that can help follow up.  You need to plan for this, help the member prepare and know what they should expect.  The members fall under the bishop's keys of fellowshipping and their support is vital for the long term needs of those who are baptized.  Teach the members the WHY, WHAT, and HOW to be good companions with you.  

How To Begin Teaching – This is the first impression and you set the tone for the rest of the lesson in a few short minutes.  You get to know them briefly, you ask inspired questions to know what they hope to learn from the visit, you remove all distractions by turning off phones, TVs, and the outside world. You create the environment for the Spirit to teach! You let them know you will pray and you will then specifically pray to bless them and help them feel the truth of what you're teaching.  You very specifically share with them what the lesson will entail, what you want them to know, feel, and do.  There should be no doubt in the minds of those you teach the nature of your purpose.  

Adjust Your Teaching to Meet Needs — As you begin teaching and ask inspired questions the Spirit will help you know how to teach to their needs.  You can't be scripted, it needs to be your words, from your heart, and your preparation.  If you are robotic or memorized the message can feel insincere.  If you have treasured up in your study and lesson planned, the Spirit will give you what you should say in the very moment you need it.  Trust this promise.

Teach for Understanding — We need to give milk before meat and teach simply.  You know far more than you will ever need to share and we can easily overwhelm if we are not careful.  Check for understanding regularly, ask questions on what they've understood, involve them in the lesson.  Use the pamphlet and always invite them to study it before your next visit.

Use the Scriptures — In a district meeting this week one of the sisters shared an acronym I like, BREAD.  Give the background of the scripture, read it with them, explain and discuss what you've read, apply it to their needs, and declare your witness.  As taught by Elder Oaks at the missionary broadcast, you should find every opportunity to use the Book of Mormon in your teaching.  You, your companion, the member, the Spirit, and the scriptures, five witnesses of the truth.  

Ask Questions, Listen, Help Them Resolve Their Concerns — I have lumped these three skills together as they all interrelate.  The type of questions I ask leads me to their needs, understanding, and concerns.  If I listen intently I can restate what they have said and demonstrate that I am interested in them and that they are part of the lesson.  As I ask and listen I am ready to understand concerns and respond with answers, testimony, and invitations.  

Elders and Sisters, I invite you to become master teachers.  Teaching is a skill that can be improved and developed as you practice, evaluate, re-practice, and do it again and again.  The first sermon an investigator will ever hear will be the one you teach.  You may only have once chance to do this right and you work so hard to find, work equally as hard to become great teachers.   Practice with your companion, practice with members (the youth are great), and check your progress regularly using pages 12-16 in the "First Twelve Weeks" booklet.  The Spirit will always make up the difference if you've done your part and fill in what you lack.  If you are humble enough to ask for feedback, and willing to make adjustments as needed, you'll see great progress.  

In June our mission challenge will be to TEACH PEOPLE, NOT LESSONS! If we apply the skills taught in PMG and truly work on them we will help many more come unto Christ.  Our June district meetings will be focused on these skills and I ask each of you to fast and pray this coming week to become more effective in your teaching.  I also invite you to fast and pray to find those the Lord has prepared for us to teach.  We need to continue our efforts to find daily and I pray that you are setting goals and making plans to seek out those who the Lord has prepared.  

We love you and we pray for your success, happiness, and effective discipleship.  Keep up the great work and let's keep our vision and effort to bring people unto Christ through baptism and all saving ordinances as our goal.  

Mission Update

We had 33 souls come unto Christ and receive a remission of their sins during the month of May!  Great work and let's now get these new converts to the temple.  Those that are eligible to go to the temple can join us for a new convert temple night on Thursday, June 23rd.  This can include anyone baptized in April that hasn't been to the temple yet.  Help them with their family names and let's be with them as they bless their ancestors for the first time – font to font.  Let's fill the temple with new converts!  Love ya!

President Hall